Connect with us
Register for the BSM Summit Now

BSM Writers

Ryan Hatch Is Competing With Your Wife

“We know our mission. We are Arizona Sports, and our mission is to super serve the local sports fan with entertaining and interesting conversations about the biggest local stories of the day.”

Published

on

I like Ryan Hatch and was really bummed that our schedules didn’t allow us to catch up more at the BSM Summit in LA last month. The program director of Arizona Sports 98.7 was part of a panel featuring both local and national programmers discussing the idea of approaching their jobs from an outside perspective. How do we improve the product by thinking about radio from a listener’s perspective?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4veo3C6QYDI

“It was fun, and listen, if we are not having these conversations, and not just having these conversations and then going back to our own work and old routines. We need to really be exchanging and listening to these ideas, otherwise we’re screwed,” Ryan told me over the phone.

We first got to know each other in the spring of 2017 when I applied for an opening on his mid-day show. He liked my creativity. I liked how much he and Bonneville emphasized a multi-platform approach to content creation. In the end, I am guessing the fact that I have never even been to Arizona is what hurt my chances of landing the job.

Either way, if you’re a content creator, it is hard not to be impressed by what Arizona Sports 98.7 is. It’s on the air, online, and dominant on social media. It may have started off as a way to create more advertising opportunities in the Phoenix market, but Ryan says that being everywhere is a necessity for any radio brand in 2019.

Our conversation included thoughts on Phoenix’s transplant community, Kliff Kingsbury, and why he doesn’t want his listeners to answer the phone when their wives call. We started out by talking about that panel from the BSM Summit and why programmers need to rethink how they approach competition.

RYAN HATCH: Where it all starts is understanding that we’re all in this fierce battle for attention. The first big thought that I think everyone can rally around is quit thinking you’re competing with the station across the street. You’re not. You’re competing with any other form of content or distraction. I’m competing against whether or not the guy listening in his car on the way home is going to take the phone call from his wife.

DEMETRI RAVANOS: On stage at the Summit you talked about trying to think beyond Nielsen ratings when we are trying to determine what success is for a show and a station. Is it easier to get talent to think beyond those numbers or to get sales staff to think beyond the numbers when you talk about what the reach of the Arizona Sports brand is?

Image result for arizona sports 98.7

RH: That’s a good question. I would say…boy, that’s tough.

DR: Well, like with your staff, to be at Arizona Sports, you have to be good at a lot of things. You have to be a good host. You have to be a good writer. So, I think those guys get the same ego boost when you see either ratings or click numbers.

At the same time though, the sales staff is always looking for new opportunities to sell their product. I can’t imagine they are reluctant to look beyond just ratings numbers when showing a client what Arizona Sports can offer them.

RH: I want to be completely honest and accurate. I don’t know that there is a really big difference. Let me give you a couple of examples.

Number one, from the content side, we’re lucky to have unbelievable talent. We have consistently high, strong ratings. We’re lucky to be in a dominant position in a major market. That is a credit to our talent – hosts, producers, board ops, promotions team, I mean everybody does that.

At the same time, one of the big changes I have seen is in behavior. We share regular, in-the-moment data, whether it be streams, clicks, or engagement statistics across multiple digital platforms. We share those regularly with our team and are constantly analyzing those. We spend a hell of a lot more time looking at our digital metrics than we do at Nielsen because Nielsen numbers only come out once-per-month.

The digital numbers are better numbers anyway. They are more representative of the larger market than boiling it down to a couple hundred male 25-54 meters that are available, so in our building, our content guys take so much pride in the overall success of the brand and the astronomical growth we have seen of ArizonaSports.com, the Arizona Sports app, our podcasts and other digital pieces. Our staff is all in, and all we want is growth.

On the other side, I’ll tell you that the majority of the business on our sales side is local. It’s local direct.

To go into a local business, wherever it might be and say “Look, we’re in a strong position in ratings, but let me tell you, ratings come and go. That’s not what you’re buying here. You’re buying a strong brand association, association to incredible talent, and a very qualified, hard to reach audience. Now, let me give you our total audience story!”

Someone at the Summit talked about total line reporting and I said on stage we need to talk less about total line reporting and talk more about total audience impact.

What we’re sharing is our ratings story, our online story, our database story, our social story. We’re even sharing SMS/text and app notification story. That’s six of about nine different buckets you can pull from. They certainly aren’t mutually exclusive, but they show the overall strength and the strength of the brand story.

So if you’re a seller you can go into a business and say “You get access to radio to tell a great story, which is effective to driving sales. You also get access to a large, targeted, local online audience. You also have access to put a pre-roll spot on a podcast if that is what is right for you. We’ve got like six or seven other channels to access on our platforms for you to access.”

Image result for arizona sports podcast

That is a heck of a stronger story for the sales staff than “Hey, here are our ratings for the last three months.”

DR: You are one of the first stations I can remember taking a multi-platform approach to content seriously. What was the evolution from being just an AM signal, a traditional sports station to the full Arizona Sports brand?

RH: Up until January 1, 2007, KTAR was this massive, full-service news/talk/sports station. It was on AM on a huge signal covering all of Maricopa County and a huge chunk of the Southwest.

What research and audience analysis said was that the news audience was never fully satisfied, because so often when they were driving home at 5 o’clock or 4:30, they want their traffic and want to be up to date on the day’s biggest news story. But what happens? The Diamondbacks are at the Marlins or the Suns are in New York and that game is on in the middle of the day out here. It just wasn’t a complete experience for them.

On the other side you had the sports fans. They wanted more of this. We had an evening show that was outside of the traditional “news all day” format. It was play-by-play and this evening show at night. The sports audience said “We need more of this! We have major teams in every sport. This is Phoenix, Arizona!”

So our company made an aggressive play. Bonneville was one of the first to move news/talk to FM, so we made the decision an investment to fully serve both audiences – news/talk on FM and sports on AM. It became News Talk 92.3 KTAR FM and Sports 620 KTAR AM.

When PPM came in, we realized sports talk was doing very well, but we were hitting a ceiling. AM is a very limited, aging audience. It was almost exclusively a male audience.

We had a decision to make. Can we move this thing to FM? If so, I knew I didn’t want a website that just looked like an advertisement for the radio station.

There was an opportunity to take a strong, almost category-closing position on ArizonaSports.com. It gave us global reach. So, we actually launched that before the station moved. We went through the process of debating “do we want to lose the equity of almost 90 years of KTAR?” and “how do we build a brand that is separate and can stand on its own?”.

We changed the name in November 2011. It was Arizona Sports 620 AM. Then it was 2014 we felt the ceiling again. It was an incredibly difficult decision to move to FM, because we had to flip an incredibly successful Adult Hits station, 98.7 the Peak. They had a great staff. But at that point we believed the future was in unique, great local content both on radio and online. Bonneville believed the Peak’s future in a hyper-competitive music side of the industry didn’t compare to the potential for Arizona Sports and its growth.

Image result for 98.7 the peak

After nine months of a simulcast, 620 became a full-time ESPN affiliate. That gave us a great flanking station to cover all local sports and take full advantage of all of our play-by-play relationships.

DR: So 620 is a full ESPN feed, but it has its own PD in Rodney Lakin. What are his duties, and what does your relationship entail in terms of how Arizona Sports’ programming needs effect 620?

RH: In addition to being PD of ESPN 620, Rod is also the APD of Arizona Sports. ESPN is a full ESPN, but we air over 400 local play-by-play broadcasts and obviously have a ton of spillover games that fall onto ESPN along with some ancillary team based local programming. And that doesn’t include any of the ESPN national offerings.

While ESPN duties keep him busy, the majority of his time and energy is Arizona Sports focused handling a lot of the day to day work with hosts and producers. With my responsibilities with the KTAR News brand and oversight of all of our digital and social content, Rod is an unbelievable wingman. 

DR: Since ArizonaSports.com launched before the change over, was there any selling of the staff that had to be done to determine who was on board, or was the idea that we are not just doing traditional AM sports talk always baked into the concept even in the Sports 620 days?

RH: Well, we knew we couldn’t have two KTARs. KTAR is news. We needed a stand alone brand to own the sports position. As we explained it to anyone, internally and externally, everyone embraced it.

Once we got to FM and had access to the larger audiences, our digital growth exploded right along with it. We put more resources into the digital space.

Back in 2007 we had one person on the Arizona Sports staff dedicated to the website alone. Now we have three digital-focused employees plus additional shared employees that cross over driving sports content for both websites.

DR: So when you talk about Phoenix’s sports hierarchy now, what is it? All of those teams are old enough to have established fanbases at this point, but it is a city that people move to from all over the country. So, what is the hierarchy of what you are covering on air from day to day?

RH: It is a fascinating market. When 73% of the population was born elsewhere and most of the teams are relatively new in the last 30 years it can be a bit of an immature sports market. But it’s an event town. There are so many competitive options.

The NFL, like most places, is king, but I will say that this is a Suns town. When there is a story, like last year with the Suns getting the number one pick, this town turned orange very quickly.

Related image

The Diamondbacks are having success and people care about them. I don’t want to make it sound like it is a bandwagon town, because it’s not. Between the weather and so many entertainment options, you really have to be special to stand out and get people’s attention.

You don’t have those multi-generational fanbases. I call us the home of everyone’s second favorite team. What you get is a Chicago Bears fan, an Atlanta Braves fan, and a New York Knicks fan. They’ve all moved here. They’ve all retained their loyalties to their favorite teams, but their second favorite team in that sport is the local team.

What are they going to go to work and talk about or what are they going to talk about at their kid’s soccer game on the weekend? They want to follow the local team so they can engage the people around them.

I think Phoenix is on the verge in the next five to ten years to becoming a more passionate sports market. The Cardinals came here in 1986, but just moved into their own stadium 12 years ago. That fanbase and its identity is just starting to emerge. The Suns do have multi-generational fans. The Diamondbacks, people here love baseball. I mean, jeez, there’s another distraction, Demetri. We have Spring Training here. Half of baseball is here.

There’s just so much going on in the market. But on FM, the brand speaks for itself. We don’t need some catchy positioning statement. We’re Arizona Sports.

Right now our listeners aren’t wrapped up in Tournament talk. They care about the Arizona Cardinals having the number one pick. They’re talking about the Kyler Murray vs. Josh Rosen discussion. They want to talk about the chances the Cardinals trade out or if they go with someone else entirely.

The listeners care a heck of a lot about the Suns and if they blow up the coaching staff again. They care about how the Diamondbacks are going to replace Paul Goldschmidt’s production.

Image result for goldschmidt cardinals

There’s a bubbling of energy around the Coyotes. If they make the playoffs we will look like one of the greatest hockey towns in the world. It is a team that has been on the verge of moving how many times?

We know our mission. We are Arizona Sports, and our mission is to super serve the local sports fan with entertaining and interesting conversations about the biggest local stories of the day.

DR: I grew up a Buccaneers fan, so I have experienced this myself. Is the fanbase more fired up now for the first pick in the draft or were you getting more interest from the Cardinals’ Super Bowl run?

RH: It’s the number one pick by far. Here’s why: there’s so much speculation and everyday that story changes. It’s not even close.

The lead up to the Super Bowl, there was so much passion and so much excitement, but that story is really week-to-week for about a month.

Image result for cardinals nfc championship game

When we knew the Cardinals had the top pick, and then the combine officially kicked things off, we had the cleanest lane to control the market place. It cannot get enough of this conversation. It’s not just everyday the story changes. It’s every hour. There’s always a new rumor.

Anecdotally we’re hearing it. We’re seeing it through our digital properties. We felt it a little bit last year with the Suns, because they had the number one pick. There was some discussion about DeAndre Ayton versus Luka Doncic and Marvin Bagley, but we’re talking about a franchise quarterback here.

We’re also talking about a guy they traded up for last year in Josh Rosen. The stories and the drama that come along with having the number one pick run multiple months before the draft. Then you have the halo afterwards. How does this person fit into the team? What other trades can they make? I have been here for most of the last 13 years. I have never seen an energy around the Cardinals like we’re seeing now with the number one pick.

I’ll put a cap on it like this. I was golfing in North Carolina last week. I was at the bar enjoying a beverage after the round and the NFL Network is on, and what is their lead story? The Cardinals and Kyler Murray and Josh Rosen. The table next to us? They were talking about the Cardinals. How often is it that Phoenix teams are part of the most discussed story in the country?

This story impacts the Cardinals, but every Giants fan wants to know what is going to happen. Same with Redskins fans. They need a quarterback. This story effects every team in the league and we are going to do everything we can to maximize that opportunity.

DR: Keep in mind I am coming at this one as a college football fanatic. I am not sure Kliff Kingsburry proved anything as a head coach at the college level. So is any of the excitement felt by having the first pick and a new era for the Cardinals on the horizon dampened by him being the head coach, or is Phoenix buying into the “he knows Sean McVay, so he’ll be great” narrative?

Image result for kliff kingsbury cardinals

RH: The excitement comes because of the incredible intrigue. It probably goes one of two ways; either he becomes the next great, young quarterback whisperer who can develop either Rosen or potentially Murray into a great player and build a high powered offensive attack, or he’s not the right guy and it was a stretch hire that didn’t pan out.

No matter what happens it’s going to be an amazing ride with super compelling storylines. We’ll know in a few years and obviously are hoping it’s the former and not the latter.

BSM Writers

Sam Mayes Got A Raw Deal But Tyler Media Made The Right Call

“You are being naive if you think a company should stand behind an employee that has put themselves in this situation.”

Published

on

I do not envy whoever at Tyler Media had to make a decision about Sam Mayes’s future with the company after audio of a private conversation in 2016 was leaked to the media. Mayes and now-former co-worker Cara Rice made a few racist jokes at the expense of Native Americans.

The recording, according to Mayes, was made without his knowledge and leaked illegally. He says in a recorded statement that he should have been given the opportunity to address the recording on air and make amends.

OKC Radio Host Sam Mayes Fired After Racist Audio is Leaked

Maybe that is true, maybe it isn’t. I hate for Sam to lose his job as the result of an illegal recording of a private conversation, but the fact is, that conversation isn’t private anymore. Tyler Media didn’t really have an option here. Sam Mayes had to go.

Someone had an illegal recording of the conversation and created an anonymous email account to send it to people in the Oklahoma City media. I was shown a copy of the email. The author states clearly that their goal is to see Mayes and Rice out of a job. There is nothing fair or just about that person getting exactly what they want. It feels slimy. I can’t say that it feels like it wasn’t the right call though.

We have debated whether or not someone should lose their job over comments made in a private conversation many times before. It happens in every field. It wasn’t long ago at all that we were having this same debate about Jon Gruden. His emails to Bruce Allen and others were sent in private. Is it fair he had to go when they were made public? No matter what horrible things were in there, they were said with the understanding that it would stay between friends.

I am going to say the same thing about Sam Mayes that I did about Gruden when that story first broke. You are being naive if you think a company should stand behind an employee that has put themselves in this situation.

You read that right. The circumstances of how the conversations in these examples came to light are absolutely unfair, but the conversations came to light. How it happened is irrelevant. Any sponsor or boss that stands behind Sam Mayes or Jon Gruden would be endorsing the language they used, either inadvertently or very much on purpose. Try explaining that to a sponsor.

People at Tyler Media may know Sam Mayes’s heart. He doesn’t seem like a bad guy. The fact of the matter is, once the audio became public, their hands were tied. There is no mistaking what was said or who said it.

How can any seller or manager take Mayes to advertisers now? How can they put him in front of the Lucky Star Casino, one of the station’s biggest advertisers? They can ask for an audience to let Sam explain himself and try to make amends. The Cheyenne and Arapahoe Tribes, who own the casino, are under no obligation to forgive or even listen.

All About the Lucky Star Casino in El Reno, Concho
Courtesy: TripAdvisor/Adam Knapp

Maybe the day will come where Sam Mayes bounces back. I hope it does. I hope he gets the chance to address his comments with members of Oklahoma’s Native American community and listen to what they have to say in response. I do think it sucks that this is how his time at The Franchise comes to an end, but I get it.

If I have to explain to you why not to say dumb, racist shit, then I don’t think we have much to talk about. But, it is worth noting that the recording of Mayes and Rice’s conversation is proof that privacy is always an assumption, not always a fact.

In his audio statement, Mayes admits it is his voice on the recording. He also says that he was uncomfortable with Rice’s comments and he tried to end their conversation. I’ll take him at his word, but I will also point out that before he tried to end the conversation, he joined in on the jokes. Maybe when someone says that Native Americans are “too drunk to organize” it isn’t a great idea to respond. All it leads to is proof of you saying something dumb and racist.

Again, I’ll reiterate that how these comments came to light is unfair, but they did come to light. That is Sam Mayes’s voice on the recording. He is joining in on the jokes about Native Americans being drunks and addicts. At the end of the day, the only thing that was done to him was the audio being released. He fully and willingly committed the firable offense.

May be an image of text

What is the response to a client or potential client when they bring that up? All Tyler Media can do is try to recover and move forward. The company cannot do that with Mayes on the payroll.

Continue Reading

BSM Writers

Stop Prospecting, Start Strategizing!

“You cannot put a price tag on authenticity. It’s very rare and hard to find these days.”

Published

on

Struggling to get new business appointments? Dreading making prospecting calls? Having trouble writing creative emails that seemingly never get a response?

Generating responses to new business outreach is easier than you think. Just make sure you do your homework first and keep it “Simple Stupid”.

To do that, start with asking yourself these (3) simple questions:

#1: Did I do my home work on the business itself, their competition and those I plan on reaching out to?

#2: If I were on the other end of the phone and/or email with myself would I want to engage in conversation and/or reply to that email?

#3: Am I prepared to make a one call close given the opportunity to?

If the answer to any of these is “No”… do NOT pick up the phone and by all means do NOT hit the send button on that initial outreach email! Doing so will all but ensure you fall flat on your face. On the off chance you do happen to get the decision maker on the phone you won’t make that great first impression that sometimes can be so crucial. First impressions are always important… ALWAYS!

Skipping over these critical steps is a sure-fire way to ensure your email is completely ignored and will not generate the engagement from the prospect you’d hope for. Successful prospecting is all about the front end digging and research. Do your homework first then strategize a plan of attack for your call and/or email. Taking these extra measures on the front end is absolutely “Mission Critical” and will set you up for much more success with your prospecting endeavors.

Now once you’ve answered “Yes” to all of the above, you’re ready to attack with the knowledge and confidence that should set you a part from your competition. It’s all about the Game Plan, and if you don’t have one, you’re destined for failure time and time again. Incorporate these (5) things into your prospecting Game Plan for your next call/email and watch your results dramatically improve:

#1: MAKE IT PERSONAL & CASUAL – Be informal, find out something interesting about them.

#2: MAKE IT SHORT & CONCISE – Be straight forward and to the point, people are busy.

#3: MAKE IT TIMELY & RELEVANT TO THEM AND/OR THEIR BUSINESS – Give them a good Valid Business Reason.

#4: MAKE IT INTERESTING, COMPELLING & INFORMATIVE – Be the expert they’re missing.

#5: MAKE IT FUN – Fun people are easy to do business with and make it less like “work”.

Lastly, and most importantly, Be Yourself! You cannot put a price tag on authenticity. It’s very rare and hard to find these days. When clients do find it trust me, they value it and appreciate it way more than you’ll ever know!

Continue Reading

BSM Writers

Good Producers Can Teach The World A Lot About Christmas

“A lot has to be accomplished in the lead-up to Christmas. So much of it happens in the background without much recognition.”

Published

on

Who is Carl Christmas in your house? Who is the one that makes sure everyone that needs to get a card does? Who comes up with the plan for the lights? Who takes the reins on the shopping?

Chevy Chase, aka Clark Griswold, to light up stage in Berks | Berks  Regional News | wfmz.com
Courtesy: Warner Bros./National Lampoon

Every home needs one and in my house, that’s me. December (including the last week of November) is my time to shine, baby!

One thing I have tried to impress upon my mom and wife this year is that shipping and supply chain delays are real. So, if you are planning on procrastinating on your online shopping this year (you know, like usual) someone (me) is going to have no presents under the tree.

Veteran producers are used to operate this way. Young producers, listen up. Your job involves the most delicate balance of any in sports radio. You have to help bring your host’s and PD’s visions to life. That means you have to be able to take their direction. But you also have to keep the host on target. That means you cannot be afraid to be forceful and lead when the moment demands it.

There’s no value to being an unrepentant asshole to people, but you do have to hold them accountable. Look at that Christmas shopping example again. If you want to get what you want, you need to keep on task the people you know aren’t paying attention to the potential roadblocks. It isn’t selfish. It is making sure everyone gets the holiday W they are expecting. Sure, you would be disappointed if your gift doesn’t arrive on time, but so will the gift giver.

Being a stickler for the clock or moving a host off of a topic that has no value is the same thing. Of course there is something in it for you, but you are also helping the host do his or her job better. They may get annoyed with you now, but if you save them from an ass-chewing from the bosses or slipping ratings, then they have reaped the benefits.

I guess the unfortunate difference here is that there may be no acknowledgment of what you did or helped them to avoid. Oh well. Every producer has to expect a certain level of thanklessness.

Producers have to take on that Carl Christmas role in dealing with sales too. Remember, just because the producer’s name isn’t on the show doesn’t mean that isn’t every bit his or her show that it is the hosts’.

It’s like decorating your house for the holidays. You may have a certain design in mind. Maybe you have a traditional look you stick to every year. If your spouse or your kid comes home with a giant, inflatable Santa Claus in a military helicopter that they want on the lawn, you have a decision to make. Are you going to say no and suggest an alternative that aligns more with your goal or are you going to let your plan get run over?

25 Best Christmas Inflatables - Top Inflatable Christmas Decorations

Sales has a job to do. It is to make sure their clients’ messages are heard and to make money for the station. Both can be accomplished without sacrificing your show’s quality.

If a seller comes to you and says he wants his client to come in for five minutes and talk about now being the time to book an appointment to have your garage floors redone, you have to speak up. You have an obligation to make sure that the seller knows that even five minutes of that will hurt the show and have listeners diving for the preset buttons on their car stereo. That isn’t good for the station or his client.

Instead, offer to work with the seller and the client to come up with a piece of content that the client can put his name on and a 20-second ad read behind. Will the audience stick around to listen to some dude named Jerry talk about garage floors or will more people listen to you talk about the NFL playoff picture in a creative way and then still be there to hear Jerry’s message about garage floors? The answer seems obvious.

A lot has to be accomplished in the lead-up to Christmas. So much of it happens in the background without much recognition. If the background work wasn’t done though, the problems would be right out on the front lawn for everyone to see.

“Gatekeeper” is a term I really hate. It implies that someone is telling others what they are and are not allowed to enjoy. It is a necessary term though to properly describe what it is that a great producer and a great Carl Christmas do.

We don’t shut people out from being able to enjoy or be a part of what it is we are creating. We set or are handed down expectations and we block anything that can get in the way of achieving them. Sometimes, that is more thankless work than it should be. It is necessary though.

Kevin Anderson on Twitter: "Just noticed that I've been blocked by the  international civil aviation authority @icao Have others working on  aviation emissions also been blocked? Appears to be that their commitment

As my home’s self-appointed Carl Christmas and a former producer, let me give my countrymen the thanks others forget. We are the ones that make it possible for everyone else to be mindless. Wear it as a badge of honor. We may not get the kind of recognition we deserve everyday, but when plans go off without a hitch, we are usually the first to be recognized for making it happen.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending

Copyright © 2021 Barrett Media.